For a lot of the younger bloggers, this may seem CRAZY, but an Excel spreadsheet used to be the PRIME way to keep track of the books you read. I never used to keep track at all… I just read. It wasn’t until 2011, when I was a senior in college (#old) and taking my last handful of writing courses that I was challenged to start keeping track of the books I read. Actually, it wasn’t a challenge. One of my writing professors was FLABBERGASTED we hadn’t kept track all this time, and it became an urgent assignment.
I’m glad I did though, because after PROMPTLY becoming frustrated with the limitations of Excel, I discovered Goodreads. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday challenges us to talk about OLD books. For those of you on my blog, you may have noticed a lot of what I read is from 10 years or more ago. There are a lot of books, okay? So old books isn’t really a new thing on my personal blog. BUT I can tell you some of the best books I read the year I actually started keeping track… the books I read in 2011.
Fortunately, I’m extremely organized, and I actually have a “Read in 2011” shelf on Goodreads. DESPITE the fact the Goodreads Challenge should be keeping up, I’ve never quite trusted it.
As always, thanks to the ladies at The Broke and the Bookish for hosting this one! I’m really looking forward to reading other blogger’s take on this one… I know what awesome books are coming out now, but what did I miss before?
by George R. R. Martin
“Wind and words. We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy.”
I actually started reading this book in 2008 and I couldn’t do it. I read the first chapter and put it down. NOT BECAUSE IT WASN’T INTERESTING. A Game of Thrones was downloaded on to my first eReader… one of the chunky old Nooks. It taught me that I thoroughly despited eBooks, because I didn’t have a way of assessing my progress (not really). If you’re a person who like to look at a book and say “Huh! I read a lot today!” then A Game of Thrones on Nook would be your ultimate disappointment. Fortunately, I picked this book back up (ON THE NOOK) in 2011 and finished it. Then bought the whole series in hardcopy. It was the last my Nook saw of daylight.
I’ll spare you the description, because I featured this book in last week’s Top Ten Tuesday, AND because if you don’t know about it, you’ve been living under a rock.
by J. K. Rowling
“Every second he breathed, the smell of the grass, the cool air on his face, was so precious: To think that people had years and years, time to waste, so much time it dragged, and he was clinging to each second.”
Heyyy, I’m re-reading this book again right now!
The Harry Potter series is always good for a re-read. I picked Deathly Hallows back up in 2011 because of the films. Once upon a time, I had this habit of rereading a book before the movie came out. Since so many movies are based on books these days, I’ve retired that habit. Sometimes I do read the book after seeing the film, not not before. I usually read one (if not all) the Harry Potter books each year, and they’re always good to revisit.
Quick synopsis – this is the one where Harry and the gang drop out of school and go running across the countryside looking for Horcruxes. It ranks #4 on my list of Harry Potter books, between Goblet of Fire and Chamber of Secrets. It gets mad props for its perfect ending, as well as how Rowling managed to add SO MUCH mythology and depth of plot in her last book alone. Utterly wonderful.
by Marisha Pessl
“Always live your life with your biography in mind,” Dad was fond of saying.
“Naturally, it won’t be published unless you have a Magnificent Reason, but at the very least you will be living grandly.”
This is one of those sorts of books that people either love or hate. I really enjoyed it. I found the mystery intriguing and I genuinely liked Blue’s character. It felt reminiscent of Mean Girls and Dead Poets Society wrapped up with a bit of old time detective work. The writing style was interesting and it was the type of book you really need to focus on while you’re reading it. It is not, by any means, a light and fluffy book.
I picked this up because a friend at work recommended it to me, and our tastes were (and still are) very similar. It is not the sort of thing I would normally reach for, but I’m glad I read it. It earned itself a permanent home on my bookshelves.
by John Green
“So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.”
Looking for Alaska came at the end of my pile of John Green books started in 2010. I had been pressured by at least three different people over the last several years to get my act together and read this book, but it never quite happened until 2011. While I enjoyed this book enough, it isn’t at the top of my John Green Favorites List. That said, it’s difficult not to be at least curious about a boy who memorizes famous last words. At the time, I also felt connected to Alaska in the same way I felt connected to Margot in Paper Towns… a lost girl looking for something more.
by Kiersten White
“Why does everyone keep asking me that?” Seriously, did I look like some sort of pyscho assassin? Maybe it was the pink sneakers. Or the heart earrings?”
I’m going to be 100% honest – I picked this book up because I used to follow Kiersten’s blog (back when she posted regularly) and she made my laugh like crazy. I liked her writing style and knew I would love her books, too. And I do! They’re not all 5-star books for me, but they’re a lot of fun and her debut book Paranormalcy is no exception. It’s easy to fall in love with the sarcastic heroine, Evie, and her bright pink taser as she finds her place in her world and floats in one of the only love triangles I could ever stand. Kiersten brought life into YA Fantasy that I hadn’t seen for a long time… she got me back into the genre. And for that, 100% recommend these books. Honestly. I think that fans of a lot of today’s popular books would enjoy going back a few years and reading them.
by Tamora Pierce
“I well knew the rules to follow with our training Dogs: Speak when you’re spoken to. Keep out of the way. Obey all orders. Get killed on your own time.”
While it took me several books to get into the Provost’s Dog series, I cannot begin to tall you how excited I was when I found out Tamora Pierce was writing a new series. I LOVE her writing. As an adult, I’ve gone back and reread her books and while The Immortals feels pretty juvenile now… the fact that she’s still writing new books suitable for a YA market (YA! Not just Children’s and MG!) was basically the coolest thing ever. Also one of my favorite things since I started blogging is finding other Tamora Pierce fans who feel like NOBODY has read her work. WELL I HAVE AND IT’S BRILLIANT.
If you haven’t read anything by her and you’re not in middle school, the Provost’s Dog series is a good place to start. Beka was born long before any of the other heroines, so there’s no interaction as you see in some of the other series, but she’s also intelligent and mature. All Pierce’s heroines are worth meeting.
by Melissa de la Cruz
“They were embarking on a journey into the darkness inside themselves.”
I love to talk about this series as: the series I didn’t expect to like. It’s cliche, it’s tacky, there are vampires (SORT OF!) and it’s one of those ones I keep seeing people drop off their TBRs. I don’t ravenously devour them, but yes, I genuinely enjoy the Blue Bloods books. This first one starts as your typical odd-girl-out book at a posh boarding school. Schuyler doesn’t realize there’s anything special about her and she has an impossible time making friends. If you don’t like that POV, though, we also have Mimi – the queen bee – and Bliss – the popular girl who is actually really nice – to fill in the gaps and get all the major female character cliches out there.
And yet I still liked it. Honestly, I don’t know what to tell you. We all have guilty pleasure books. By the fifth book, things were getting INTERESTING.
by Philippa Gregory
“I was born to be Queen of England and mother of the next King of England. I have to fulfill my destiny, it is my God-given destiny.”
This book was recommended to me by the same girl who said I should read Special Topics in Calamity Physics, and once again she was spot-on for my tastes. The Constant Princess follows the story of Katherine of Aragon, first wife to Henry VIII. Although fiction, Gregory’s books are heavily researched to provide as much historical context as possible and it is both enjoyable and educational. Not only is the Catalina a marvelous character, but it’s interesting to see the evolution of Henry from a sweet, spoiled boy to the tyrannical wife-killer that we remember him as today.
On a side note, I believe Gregory has been under a bit of criticism lately for an interview she did, where she was very snobbish? This is unfortunate but despite it, I would still recommend at least this book… in fact I’d recommend The Constant Princess more highly than her popular The Other Boleyn Girl. Yes, it has a bit less intrigue, but the characters I thought were far better.
Scientific Progress Goes “Boink”
by Bill Waterson
“You know, sometimes the world seems like a pretty mean place.’
‘That’s why animals are so soft and huggy.”
So here’s a different one for you.
Do you ever have one of those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days where you just want to curl in a corner and not have life or responsibilities? I do – all the time. When I do, one of my favorite things to do is pull out the old comic books and just PRETEND nothing matters for a little while. My guilty pleasure in these sad, dark moments? Calvin and Hobbes.
For years, Scientific Progress Goes “Boink” was the only Calvin and Hobbes collection I owned, so I read it more than once. It’s got all the great stuff in it, though – sledding, snowman armies, and the Transmogrifier, of course. I believe Spaceman Spiff is in this collection as well.
If for some reason you AREN’T familiar with Calvin and Hobbes, you really need to grab one these comic books and change that. You can devour them in an hour; less if you’re a fast reader. They’re charming and relatable at any age.
by Stephen King
“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
As a Writing minor in college, we had to read a lot of literary collections and poetry books… some of which were written by the teachers, which I thought was pretty lame. There really weren’t a lot of writing books assigned that had been written by successful authors. It wasn’t until senior year that we were finally assigned a really practical writing advice book, and it was On Writing. This book has been one of the most influential writing books I’ve ever read. We all know stories about how J.K. Rowling got denied a bunch, blah blah blah… but I’d never really read the whole story. The struggle to be published, the mounds of rejection letters, the tweaking of the writing process. Heck, in 2011, I didn’t know what ANY writer’s process was.
And I was tickled pink to discover that Stephen King likes to do 2000 words/day. That’s actually my comfort zone, too. This tidbit and many other little ones I’ve remembered from this book, and they’ve inspired me to learn my craft and keep confident. If you’re a writer, even if you don’t like King, I highly recommend this book.
So! That’s what I read in 2011!
Six years ago, these were the books that called to me most, and inspired me. As usual with my blog, none of these were particularly new and exciting in 2011, but I stand by what I said – they were good and in many ways, I enjoyed them and they have all stayed with me. I know a lot of bloggers are really prolific readers, but in 2011, I only read 32 books. I’m okay with that number. I was a full-time senior in college, working retail 40+ hours a week, and juggling a 20-ish hour a week internship and theatre commitments. I’m okay with my 2011 reading pile.
What were you beauties reading six years ago?